This seems to be a question I am hearing or reading more and more. And it's a fair question, and I respect that it's always good to challenge things - so I thought I would try to answer it as well as I can from my perspective as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner and experienced Midwife.
It is possible in this wonderful age of technology now to buy and listen to the course CD, download lots of birthing affirmations and watch lots of positive HypnoBirths on YouTube. So what else do you need right? Surely if you're doing all of these things then you've got it covered?
Well, yes - there will be some women for whom this is enough. But in all honesty, these women are pretty few and far between (and please comment if you are one such lucky lady!)
So what else are you getting from a course that you can't teach yourself? And why should you shell out all that money?
Well, the first, and to my mind the most important, thing is the support. Firstly the support for you as the woman who will be birthing the baby; it is so important to have the positive reinforcement of why HypnoBirthing works and how. The course practitioners are of varying backgrounds, but most (if not all) have birthed their own babies and many are Midwives or Doulas who have been with many women at the births of their babies. These practitioners are all passionate about one thing: HypnoBirthing. They all exude such confidence and passion on the subject that it is contagious. It is quite frankly impossible to attend the sessions and not to feel empowered, informed and supported in your personal journey. They won't just meet you in class and that be it, most will be available to you by phone or email before, during and after the birth of your baby to offer support and advice. That is something that you just can't get that from a CD or a book!!
That support is equally important for your birth partner. The course is designed to teach the birth partner to understand exactly how important their role is (and man, is it important!) - and exactly what it is they can do for you during your pregnancy and birth to really help and support you. This cannot be overemphasised - you and your birth partner are a team, and you need to learn and be treated as such.
The practical elements of the course are very difficult to learn by reading or watching clips. I see many questions from women who are self-teaching asking forums if they are doing the breathing correctly, how perineal massage works and so on. In the classes we lead you into many wonderful relaxations to guide you in how it should be, including the fantastic Fear Release script which is very powerful and cannot be self taught. The light touch massage is another very powerful tool for the birth partner to use, we demonstrate this in class so that they really get it (and Mum gets a lovely treat as we practice on her!)
The cost is a common question - and again a fair one. However these classes are not just a few hours in a classroom with some lady talking about breathing. Your teacher will invest in you and your story, in your pregnancy and your birth. She will be there for you, tailor her care to you and become a part of your journey. It isn't really the 'cost' of the course, it's an investment in your life.
So, I hope that I've summed it up ok. I genuinely feel that my couples leave my classes floating on a cloud of relaxation and empowerment, and this gives them the tools to go ahead and have the wonderful HypnoBirth that they are capable of. And I just don't think you can read that in a book..